WugulOra Morning Ceremony

WugulOra Morning Ceremony is finished


26 January 2018
7:45am – 8:30am


Walumil Lawns
Barangaroo Reserve NSW

Begin your Australia Day at Barangaroo Reserve by taking part in a smoking ceremony, an ancient custom among Aboriginal Australians.

Other information

Accessible event

$Free access

WugulOra, meaning ‘One Mob’, is a special moment to begin Australia Day by acknowledging our shared history and the traditional custodians of the land. 

Hear local elders speak of the strength and resilience of the world’s oldest living culture.

Watch as Aboriginal dancers and singers treat the audience to special performances, including the Sydney Festival’s Bayara Choir and the Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe

Listen as the national anthem is sung in English and Aboriginal language Dharawal, before the Aboriginal and Australian flags are raised on the Sydney Harbour Bridge to mark the start of Australia Day.

Download the program, song lyrics and translations


 To prepare for the Morning Ceremony, winners of the 2016 National Aboriginal Dance Rites contest Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe will hold a Smoking Ceremony at Barangaroo.

The Australia Day 2018 Smoking Ceremony flame will be lit on 25 January at Belmore Park and tended to overnight at Me-mel (Goat Island). The fire will be transported from Me-Mel to Marrinawi Cove. A procession will escort the fire from Marrinawi Cove to Walumil lawns at 7:45am.

Smoking ceremonies are an ancient custom among Aboriginal Australians in which native plants are burnt to produce smoke to ward off bad spirits, acknowledge ancestors and pay respect to the land and sea of country. The smoke is believed to have healing and cleansing properties.

In the video below, Yuin Elder Uncle Max Harrison and Yuin man Dean Kelly talk about the meaning and significance of a Smoking Ceremony. To turn on captions, use the video controls.

At 8:30am, after the Morning Ceremony, the Smoking Ceremony is shared. One part will travel to the Yabun Festival. The other part will sail to Campbells Cove in the Rocks where all are invited to learn more about local Aboriginal culture and enjoy performances throughout the day. At 7.00pm the Smoking Ceremony boards the Tribal Warrior to take part in Live at the Quay! and the nationally televised concert at the Sydney Opera House


Meet the talented singers of the KARI choir as they rehearse our national anthem in Dharawal.



  • Between 7:45am and 8:30am:
    • Fire arrives at Marrinawi Cove, transported from Me-mel (Goat Island) by the Tribal Warrior. A procession will escort the fire from Marrinawi Cove to Walumil lawns. 
    • Smoking Ceremony and dance on Walumil Lawns by the Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe
    • Welcome to Country by Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council
    • Sydney Festival’s Baraya Choir perform a song for country, ancestors and healing written by Jacinta Tobin and Nardi Simpson
    • Address by His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd), Governor of NSW
    • Women’s Dance by the Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe
    • Address by The Honourable Gladys Berejiklian MP, Premier of NSW
    • National anthem sung in English and Aboriginal language Dharawal (spoken south of the Georges River) as the Aboriginal and Australia Flags are raised on the Harbour Bridge
  • From 8:30am: At the end of the ceremony, stay on at Barangaroo for This is Australia which kicks off with a performance by Casey Donovan. Enjoy an all-day brunch curated by Jared Ingersoll (purchase required), games, DJs and more. 
  • From 4pm to 9pm: Help to symbolically return four thousand fish to Sydney Harbour as part of Sydney Festival

Public transport

Plan ahead and leave the car at home. The best way to get around on Australia Day is by public transport using an Opal Card.

If travelling by train, please allow some extra travel time. 

Visit transportnsw.info for details on train, bus, light rail and ferry services. 

Road closures

Road closures and special event clearways will be in place for Australia Day.

For real-time information about road closures and traffic conditions:

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